Finally bit the bullet and built a proper gaming rig

Published Friday 11 Nov 2016 11:15am | 0
Tags: rate my rig, home built, on a budget, points bait

OK, so I've been gaming since I was 12, which to some of you doesn't sound like much, until I point out that that was nearly 33 years ago.  Yup, started with a Commodore C64 and never looked back.

My first "gaming rig" was the first PC that I bought, paid and assembled myself, back in 1993, a 486DLC 40MHz, I forget how much RAM it had, probably a meg or two, a 340meg HD and I think a Matrox graphics card, perfect for playing Doom and Duke on...

A few years (about 4), a few upgrades (more RAM, new graphics [newer Matrox], more HDs [1Gig, 2Gig an 800meg), additional cooling and overclocking] and I ran a BBS on it, later I left it behind to go overseas...

Roll on many years and due to travel, family and space, I've been playing on a series of laptops since, which for the likes of Command and Conquor, early NFS, etc have been passible.

My most recent laptop, a now 6 year old HP Pavilion dv6 (i7 quad, 8Gig, Radeon HD6770M 2Gig) was a marvel for playing Colin McRae, NFS and World of Tanks (with everything turned down...) but has recently been suffering, as I had it hooked to two full HD screens, plus the fan has a bit of a death rattle.

So it was time to bite the bullet and build a new rig.  Budget? $1000

What did I really spend? About $1200 :)

What did I get:

  • Cheap $29 tower case from PBTech - on special
  • "upgrade" kit (i5 6400 quad + 8Gig [single stick] + Gigabyte mobo to match) - on special at PBTech (but there was a deal, two weeks before I bought it, for even cheaper) - ~$470
  • Crucial MX300 525Gig SSD - off Amazon - this is what blew my budget - ~$190
  • AMD Radeon RX480 8Gig - ~$440 from TechWorld
  • EVGA 500W power supply - $69 from PBTech - on special
  • DVD dual-layer writer - repurposed from an old PC

So how does it play?

It rocks!  It's a great HD gaming rig.  I can turn everything up and as long as I lock vsync (I get stuttering if I turn it off), everything I've tried so far can play at max (WoT, WoW, WoWP, Forza Horizon).

Some of you are probably wondering why the Rx480 (especially at 8Gig) and not a 4G or a GTX1060 6Gig.

Two primary reasons:

  • I have a soft spot for AMD/ATI cards (I have had NVidia in the past, but find myself more comfortable with AMD)
  • Headroom/future proofing. My reading of the various reviews out there suggests that while pricing of the GTX 1060 6G and the RX480 8G are quite similar, the GTX narrowly beats out the RX on older titles (DX11 and older), while the RX beats out the GTX on newer (DX12/Vulcan) games.
    This suggests that the RX is likely to be the better card going forward.
    Plus with 8Gig, there's plenty of room for textures, etc, which bodes well, again, for future titles and potentially VR.

What's in my future?

  • A second 8Gig DDR4 stick (I intentially didn't get 4Gig*2 - sacrificed a little speed now [no dual channel] for a cheaper upgrade later
  • Cooling/overclocking - It's all stock right now, though the RX480 is a PowerColor Red Devil with factory OC.
  • Lighting? The case has a window and a blue lit fan already, but I'm more concerned about performance than how it looks.
  • Perhaps an i7 upgrade at some point.  While the i5 quad performs very well, I actually miss Hyperthreading.

So, what do you think? Did I make the right choice?  It's certainly cheaper and possibly more performant than a number of store bought $1200 PCs, though I haven't had to include the cost of monitor(s), keyboard/mouse, DVD/Bluray and OS.

No fanboy flaming please.


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